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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 August, 2004, 22:09 GMT 23:09 UK
Chinese riot after Japan victory
Chinese police detain a football fan during unrest following the Asian Cup final
Chinese fans were bitterly disappointed at their team's defeat
Chinese football fans have rioted in Beijing after Japan won Asia's prized football championship in a tense final.

Fans burned Japanese flags, shouted obscenities and sang patriotic songs outside the stadium as more than 5,000police lined the streets.

Defending champions Japan won the Asian Cup 3-1, but faced jeers from Chinese fans throughout the match.

Many Chinese feel Japan has not atoned for its brutal occupation in the 1930s and aggression during World War II.

Bussed to safety

Japan's national anthem was drowned out by jeers, which continued whenever Japan had possession of the ball.

Tens of thousands of Chinese fans were at the game - their team's first Asian Cup final in 20 years.

There was no violence during the match but afterwards Japan's small contingent of fans had to be bussed to safety as Chinese fans gathered outside Beijing's Workers' Stadium.

The BBC's Louisa Lim says the behaviour of the Chinese fans raises questions as to how the country can keep a lid on nationalism when it hosts the Olympics in 2008.

Before the match, the Japanese embassy in Beijing was advising its nationals to avoid wearing the national team's blue shirts, and to keep a low profile.

Chinese man wears shirt calling for boycott of Japanese goods

Some Japanese fans who travelled to China for the tournament were not happy about the hostile reception.

"I'm a bit irritated about it, but there's nothing we can do," one Japanese fan told the BBC's World Today programme before the match.

Even Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi joined the debate, appealing for a more welcoming atmosphere for the Japanese team.

The Chinese captain Li Weifeng had urged Chinese fans to ensure a peaceful game.

"Sport is the symbol of friendship so there are absolutely no political feelings or thoughts involved in our minds," he said before the match.

Tensions

But the traditional rivalry between the two countries means tensions between the fans are never far from the surface.

Police officers try to confiscate a banner from Chinese fans during the semi-final match, Aug. 3, 200
Chinese fans have waved anti-Japan flags at previous matches
"During the war, the Japanese bombed our country, so many people were affected....This is a football match, it's not war, but having a football game in a different location means you have to get in touch with the local culture," Chinese fan Tian Xiaowei told Reuters news agency.

China is bitter about the massacre of 300,000 Chinese civilians in Nanjing in 1937, as well as numerous allegations of human rights abuses before and during the war.

One Japanese fan conceded that he understood why the Chinese booed and taunted his team.

"If we were in their place, I would feel like booing Japan," he told the BBC.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Louisa Lim
"For Chinese fans this match was about more than just football"



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